Combating underage drinking is a major public health priority, as alcohol use by young people increases the likelihood of short- and long-term consequences, including altered brain development, academic problems, sexually transmitted infections, physical and sexual assault, traffic crashes, injuries, overdoses, and alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Epidemiological data from the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, indicate that underage drinking among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders has declined by half, on average, over the past 2 decades (see the By the Numbers story “Underage Drinking in the United States, 1998-2018“). Although these declines are encouraging, alcohol remains the most widely used substance among U.S. youth. In 2018, about 8 percent of 8th graders, 19 percent of 10th graders, and 30 percent of 12th graders drank alcohol in the past month. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 443,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had AUD in 2017. Underage binge drinking and high-intensity drinking in college settings are also a concern. Read more here.